For even the most stoic of us, the news cycle seems more challenging then ever. It challenges our understanding of leadership. It challenges our faith in peace and humanitarian balance across the globe. It challenges our identities as citizens of individual countries, and our accountability as stewards of the earth.
Your children need to understand the world in which they live. Younger children need to feel like the world is a predictable place (at least in things like physics) and the people around them predictable people (at least those closest to them.) They need to feel like the world is a place they can influence and that that influence will be real. Older children need to understand the complexities of that influence, the ways in which social groups and power dynamics affect leadership, and the ways in which good people can nonetheless navigate difficult situation. Young adults need to be prepared with the opportunities to hone their own voices and leadership, to be able to put into action the vision they have for how the world might work.
What a time for Montessori.
It's daunting, for those of us who have carried our hopeful hearts into adulthood, to see what we have created.
What a time for Montessori.
Now, more than ever, we need to put aside our rightness as adults and look carefully to the children we serve. We have not created the adult society they deserve. Are we doing everything we can to prepare an environment within which they can create it themselves?
We know how to do it with other Montessorians- that's why we've chosen Montessori. But Montessori isn't a curriculum for 9AM-3PM. It's a mandate for how children should be nurtured, should we want them to turn out better than we have. And there is so much work to do.
As you're watching the news unfold, in what seems more than twenty-four hours each day, ask yourself what you can do with what you've seen. Maybe your influence is personal, leaving behind heavy-handed punishments at home and focusing on developing a new way to communicate with your children. Maybe it reaches just a little beyond your household, and you take on those difficult conversations with your parents or your neighbors about why you've chosen a different way of doing things for your children. Maybe it reaches into your community, and you identify ways in which you can be of service, independently and with your children, to improve the lives of people around you. Maybe you find that little bit of time at the end of an otherwise-already-scheduled day to reach out to a policymaker or elected official to ask them to think differently about how we protect children. Maybe you focus first just on yourself, knowing that without a reflective heart and a committed spirit, the challenge may soon overwhelm you. That's ok, too... just don't stay there too long. We need your hands at work.
And until we've figured out how to do this better, be careful about your family's exposure to the news. Model a calm thoughtful response to the news, measuring your own emotional reaction and thinking about the kids of questions your children may have. Be alert to changes in their behavior and take seriously the questions they ask you, even if they seem far-fetched. While we, as adults, may have decades of experience learning temper and hide our reactions to bad news, children are learning about the world for the first time, and the events that draw our attention beyond our homes teach them about whether the world is a safe place in which they can thrive. You are both gatekeeper and translator to those events. While you may not be able to change them today on a national scale, you can model in your own home how to make sense of them in a way that leaves your child with the motivation to get or stay involved in making them better.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” - Anne Frank